This week in impact investing: mobile ad platform Jana raises $57 million to expand free internet services; Social Finance launches a South Carolina social impact bond for mothers and children; a fund in the UK offers tax relief along with an expected 8 percent return; and more!
Jana raises $57 million to expand free internet service. The mobile advertising platform has raised Series C financing. Investments from Verizon Ventures, Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe bring Jana’s total financing to $95 million. Jana’s goal is free Internet access for a billion emerging markets mobile users. Founded in 2009 by Nathan Eagle at MIT’s Design Lab, Jana trades free data for sponsored app use, cutting costs for pay-as-you-go mobile users. Its revenues come from app partners, including Amazon. The company says it has reached 30 million people via 311 mobile operators in 93 countries. Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, joined Jana’s board.
$30 million social impact bond in South Carolina. A $30 million “bond” in South Carolina aims to improve maternal and child health through in-home training and nursing services to 3,200 first-time, low-income mothers. The program seeks to reduce preterm births, decrease child injury and hospitalization and improve family planning. Orchestrated by Social Finance, the intervention will be administered by the nonprofit Nurse-Family Partnership, under a contract with the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services. It has received $17 million in philanthropic support from The Duke Endowment, the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, and Boeing, among others, as well as $13 million in Medicaid financing.
Unitus Seed Fund invests in Bangalore start-up. Unitus Seed Fund has invested 6.6 crore rupees ($970,000) in Bangalore-based background verification service Better Place Safety Solutions. The firm makes it easier for employers in India to run background checks by compiling digital, social media and traditional offline data on individuals. The company has previously received financial support from former Google India executive Lalitesh Katragadda. Its aims to reach 10 million profiles by the end of 2016.
‘Tax Relief Fund’ in UK targets social enterprises. Resonance’s Social Investment Tax Relief Fund has reached a first close of £1.3 million ($1.9 million). The fund, sponsored by UBS Wealth Management, is the first to capitalize on a tax break in the U.K. that allows individuals to deduct 30 percent of the cost of social investments from their income tax liability, even while targeting a return of 8 percent. The fund is set to make its first investments, in social enterprises in the city of Bristol. Resonance is looking to raise £5 million for the fund and then to launch tax relief funds across the U.K.
Indian solar start-up raises angel investment. igrenEnergi Inc has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from New York-based angel investor Sunil Mehta, who has reportedly invested a total of $1 million in the company. The funds will support the launch of the solar start up’s first product—an eight-panel “Solar Optimizer,” which it claims can boost solar panel efficiency by minimizing energy loss.
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Photo credit: Jana website